It sounds good, but is it sustainable?

STE Editor Steve Lasky looks at the sustainability of physical security systems


Okay, Mr. Security Director, as if your vocabulary list hasn’t already been expanded enough by your in-house IT partner, don’t look now but there is another buzzword lurking behind that well-dressed CFO. “Sustainability” has suddenly crept into the C-Level lexicon, and your world will never be the same.

As physical security systems migrate more and more to a network-centric environment, controlling the impact of energy consumption across the organization has CFOs turning up the heat on those accountable for greening of data centers and others in charge of snuffing out your department’s carbon footprint.

It was certainly an education for me this past year as I participated in a national tour sponsored by Anixter that dealt with key issues of data center functionality — two of which were security and sustainability. Although my area of expertise is in security, it was fascinating to see how much emphasis was being spent on these “greening” initiatives.

I didn’t appreciate how much energy data centers consumed. It takes enormous amounts of energy to run and maintain servers, computer systems and other high-performance networking equipment. According to Anixter, data centers in the United States account for 1.5 percent of all power used — roughly equal to all the television use in the nation and more power consumption than the entire state of Mississippi — and demand is expected to double by 2011. Considering the realistic cost-savings an organization can reap from a strategic “greening” roadmap, you’d be naïve to ignore the benefits.

Calculating tangible TCO is something I can grasp. But please spare me the innocuous mathematical equations environmental geeks use to spread the carbon footprint nonsense.

I’m sure the more than 8,000 governmental nabobs from the 170 countries who attended the Climate Conference in Copenhagen this month looking to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (aimed at reducing greenhouse gases produced by the world’s leading industrialized nations) didn’t give two hoots about the amount of jet fuel, steak dinners and hotel towels they consumed during their Denmark vacation.

The fact that the Kyoto agreement was a United Nations initiative should be your first clue it was useless propaganda based on politics, not science. Most economists agree it would have had a crippling effect on the United States, while providing a free pass to countries like China and India who were exempt from this amusing proactive environmental accord. Stay tuned to see how the current U.S. administration finds relevance in justifying America’s leadership role when the Copenhagen Protocol comes to a vote in 2012.

So let’s get back to the tangible returns. Earlier this year, one major IT vendor unveiled an energy-savings initiative that would phase in a “greening” roadmap to manage the energy consumption of IP devices such as phones, video surveillance cameras and wireless access points. It would expand to devices such as personal computers, laptops and printers. And the final phase would extend to the management of building system assets such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), elevators, lights, employee badge access systems, fire alarm systems and security systems.

The ultimate goal would be to position the network as a pillar of Green IT, which would include purchasing more energy-efficient networking equipment, and providing the IT manager with the tools to manage the energy consumption of any asset connected to the network.

As a corporate security director, getting on board with your IT manager to help navigate these network-centric savings is the mountaintop of convergence — not to mention organizational goodwill. But when it comes to assessing the non-corporate “greening” issues, President Ronald Reagan seemed to have nailed the global warming scam when he pinned it all on bovine flatulence.
The international meat industry produces 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — much of which comes from the methane released by cattle and the nitrous oxide in manure. Methane produced by the planet’s billions of cow farts has a warming effect 23 times as great as that of carbon, while nitrous oxide is 296 times as great.

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